Archive for August, 2011
August 29, 2011
Filed Under (Medieval) by Keith on 29-08-2011
On bank holiday Sunday I decided to go out for the day and hang the expense. Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park is only 5 miles away from my house and I noticed on their website that this weekend was a medieval camp with Les Routiers de Rouen. I wont go into detail as to who they are because their webpage says it all! Click the link if you really want to know. In case you are wondering what the battlefield is all about, it is where King Richard III fought his last battle against the usurper Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond on 22nd August 1485.
There’s enough links in the last paragraph to fill you in about Bosworth Field, so I’ve put up a few photos I took for you to browse through. There is also two videos at the end of this post of the present King Richard III (?). If you want to see the photos in more detail just ‘clic the pics’.
August 23, 2011
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Keith on 23-08-2011
In the news today it stated that a 70-year-old man who reportedly looted a Sainsbury’s is the oldest person to be arrested so far in connection with the riots that swept across London two weeks ago.
Police said that the pensioner was held in relation to the incident in Ealing, West London..
A spokesman said that the man was let off with a caution. The elderly man who is not being named by police is one of thousands of people to have been arrested in relation to the disorder and violence that spread through the capital a fortnight ago.
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman is quoted in The Mirror as saying: “This man was deeply ashamed of himself and it was decided it wasn’t in the public interest to lock him up.”
Damn! Damn! If I had known that before the riots I could have gone to Curry’s with my Visa Brick and got myself a washing machine, a cooker and a nice big flat screen telly (not for me you understand, but to be sold on eBay to help finance my drug addiction).
If the rozzers nicked me I could have pleaded that I was well over 75 and senile and didn’t know any better, and they would probably have said it was in the public interest to lock me up. Well, what’s it matter anyway, I about to be fined or locked up anyway for NOT watching television [see previous post].
My opinion is that no matter whether you are 10 or 100, if you commit a crime and get caught then you must pay the price.
August 21, 2011
Let me put you in the picture as to my TV reception facilities here. There isn’t any. I do NOT own a working TV set, and have not done so for the last 12 years. I was so disgusted with the banal mind-numbing crap that the BBC churned out in the name of entertainment. In fact ITV was just as bad. The only thing I watched was the BBC News, and even that was being censored by them. What news they show is either bad, or doesn’t tell the whole truth, or is withheld in part.
When the licence fee went up in 1999 I took my TV to the local tip and throw it into the skip, and I haven’t owned a TV since then.
I didn’t renew my TV licence in 2000. What was the point? Immediately, well in a matter of days, I received a letter reminding me that I hadn’t renewed, and if I didn’t I faced a fine of up to £1000. Charming! So I drafted a nice polite letter explained why I didn’t need a licence and I thought that was the end of the matter.
WRONG. Ever since then I have received a constant stream of letters with “TV Licensing” on the envelope. At first I read their idle threats about what they planned to do to me, i.e., hefty fines, imminent court action, search warrants, firing squad etc. After a while I just put the letters straight into the shredder without opening them. The propaganda put out by TV Licensing portrays TV Licence evaders as criminals and scum of the earth. What you have to remember in all this is that it’s just about the entirely harmless act of watching television.
Then it happened. One day there was a loud knocking on the door. I opened it to find a “TV Licence Enforcement Officer” standing there, pen poised over his clipboard ready to write down my response to his
“Are you Mr Keith Smith?”
That is until yesterday morning. I picked up a letter with the “TV Licensing” logo on it, so I broke the rule and opened it. The gist of it was “We have reason to believe that you are watching TV without a licence”, and then it went into the usual threats of court action, fines, and possible castration; sorry, I mean incarceration if I didn’t phone, write or email them by 26 August as to why I haven’t got a TV Licence. Here we go again, I thought, back to square one. I still haven’t got a TV, but I have bought a video cassette player which is interfaced with this computer for the sole purpose of copying my home movies to DVD.
I went to great pains years ago to find out my rights in this case and the action I took was perfectly legal and I was within my rights.
August 20, 2011
Filed Under (Calligraphy & Lettering) by Keith on 20-08-2011
I have been asked to create a Remembrance Day scroll for the local British Legion. They stated they wanted it in a modern contemporary style and not to look like “some medieval monk” had created it [their words].
They chose the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ taken from Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’, which was first published in The Times in September 1914.
This is the first draft/idea I came up with. The finished scroll will be on parchment with a border of poppies to link it to another famous poem; which I have lettered out many times in the past for various people, called In Flanders Fields
Personally I would have chosen ‘In Flanders Fields’ because I think it says so much more than the ode, but as they say, “he who pays the piper calls the tune”, so The Ode of Remembrance it is!
I’m not really happy about the font I used. I can’t decide whether it’s suitable for the occasion or not. I have always believed that the font-style should always reflect the subject content, i.e. I use Copperplate for weddings, Cloister black for funerals, Chancery Italic for change of address and other informal occasions, etc.
This year seems to being going by at a rapid rate of knots. It will soon be time for me to start on my hand-lettered Christmas cards. I always make them for all my close friends (both of them!) every year. A personalised card says so much more that a cheap tatty one from a charity shop, don’t you think? I usually do a small watercolour picture on the front, and letter the inside with the persons name and the greeting. And what do I get back? You guessed it; a cheap tatty one from a charity shop! Still, it’s the thought that counts, so why don’t they think to slip a twenty pound note in with the card for a poor old downtrodden pensioner who’s on his last bottle of malt whisky?
August 14, 2011
Some things I never did throw away, I still have and use today.
1. A Swan “Calligraph” fountain pen.
I bought this pen in 1948 for 17s 11d (89p) when I was 11 years old, and just starting at the “Big Boys School” (Secondary Modern, or High School in the American colonies?)
This particular model has a very flexible fine nib and is designed to write in the ‘Copperplate’ style, unlike other models that have italic nibs of various widths. I still use the pen after 63 years! The only maintenance was to change the ink bladder about 10 years ago. It still writes perfectly.
2. This is an interesting book about the history of modern fonts. . . . well, it was in 1950.
I was on a visit to London with my father when I was 13 and we called into Foyles bookshop in the Charing Cross Road. Just by chance there was a book signing going on, so being a nosey kid I pushed my way to the front and there was this absolutely genuine first-class weirdo (to my mind anyway!) signing copies of his book. It was the book I was interested in so I bought one, but didn’t bother to join the queue for the ‘weirdo’ to sign it. I later found out that it was Quentin Crisp!
3. This is what it says on the box.
Bought in 1951 so that I could colour the black and white pictures of the Festival Of Britain I had taken on a school trip. In those days colour film was too expensive to buy for a small schoolboy, so I had to settle for a monochrome film for my dad’s Kodak Tourist camera which he loaned me on pain of death if I lost or damaged it!
The box contains several coloured pencils, cotton buds and a bottle of liquid to coat the photo with prior to colouring with the special pencils. It really does work, and the colours are permanent, so if I made a mistake then it was too bad!
4. This is also what it says on the box.
To my shame I looted this tin of drawing pins from the teachers desk at school one break-time because she gave me detention for flicking ink-pellets at her back when she was writing on the blackbo . . .oops, can’t say that nowadays, I mean the chalk-board. That’s the trouble with teachers; they have no sense of humour. I though it was quite funny, until my “bestest friend in all the world” grassed me up with “Please Miss, Keith Smith is flicking ink onto your back!” Little sneak!
I still feel guilty about those drawing pins, do you think I should return them? I did find a use for one pin later that day though. I put it on the little sneaks chair, business end uppermost, when he was just about to sit down.
5. My Scout Knife . . . .or “offensive weapon” as the Rozzers (Police, in the colonies) now call them.
When I graduated from the Wolf Cubs up to the Boy Scouts in 1948 my mother bought me my scouting knife which I wore proudly on my new Baden Powell belt with my smart new uniform. As you can see, I still have it but I dare not take it out of the house or carry it with me because of the strict knife laws in Britanistan now, so it is used in the garden and for sharpening pencils. In the Scouts we were always taught that your knife was a survival tool, NOT a weapon, and as such it could be your best friend if you were caught out in the open and lost.
Nowadays if you are found with something like that vicious looking knife above when the rozzers stop and search you it could result in a hefty fine, or a custodial sentence. “When knives are outlawed, only outlaws will carry knives”.
6. Insulated staples
My first experiment into the field of electronics and wireless was in 1952 when I built my first crystal set wireless using a piece of “hertzite” (?) and a cats whisker. At first I couldn’t get it to work and the cat was rapidly running out of decent whiskers when my father explained that a “cat’s whisker” was actually a piece of very fine copper wire. After that it was ‘all systems are go’. Never did see that cat again . . .
The problem was that a crystal set needs a good aerial and earth to work properly, so I invested my pocket money in a long length of aerial wire and the insulated staples and proceeded to tack it around the picture rail from one room to another. When my parents returned from their shopping trip and saw my efforts at interior decorating the merde really hit the fan! Afterwards, when the mess was sorted out, my father did put me a long wire from the bedroom window to the tree at the bottom of the garden.
I don’t know why I kept the packet of staples. Still I suppose they will come in handy when I put up another aerial.
7. Miniature model making kit
A doting auntie bought me this Micromodel kit for my 11th birthday. At that time it looked a bit to complicated for me to tackle so I put it aside intending to assemble it when i had a better grasp of the technology involved.
Now at 75 I still can’t figure out how to assemble it so I’ll put it aside until I’ve grown up enough to work out the instructions.
Afterthought: Notice that three of the items proudly display “British Made” and “Made in Great Britain”. It is also on the box of staples and engraved on the knife blade. Aah, those were the days when something made in GREAT Britain was made to last!
August 01, 2011
(I put this post on my homepage last week, and I thought you might be interested).
Big Brother is watching you . . .
. . ..or it’s the police and/or the council keeping an electronic eye on you.
As you approached Earl Shilton from Leicester via the A47 to there used to be a large pole on the left with an assortment of cameras on it, just before you entered the town.
Then I noticed one day that the pole was bare. The cameras had gone! I wondered if perhaps they had been stolen or just removed because of complaints. Then shortly after that the pole disappeared, so I thought there was some skulduggery going on. Obviously motorists approaching the town at high speed in spite of the 30mph sign saw the cameras and slowed down, thereby avoided a speeding fine and depriving the police of their income!
The top picture shows the new location of the cameras. Hard to spot, eh? Click on the picture to enlarge. They are on the corner of the building, just above the signs.
Click the pic below for a better view. The white camera appears to be just an ordinary run-of-the-mill surveillance camera looking along the road into the town, but it’s that ominous little black camera that’s the dangerous one. It’s called an “Automatic Number Plate Recognition” camera.
This one looks down the hill, registering all number plates on vehicles entering or leaving Earl Shilton. It has a range of approximately 45 metres, zoom lens with a high magnification and can read number plates at night by using an infra-red projector. Oncoming headlights, even on main beam, are no problem to it due to the narrow band filters installed in it.
The information captured of the plate alphanumeric, date-time and any other information that is required is completed in somewhere around 250 milliseconds. This information can easily be transmitted to some remote computer, such as at the DVLA in Swansea, for further processing in order to check that the vehicle is taxed, insured and has a current MOT certificate. Some models also have speed detection facilities.
I got all the technical information from an unreliable source (the police) so I can’t swear to the accuracy of it; but you get the general picture. Incidentally, I have seen these cameras on three of the roads leading in and out of our town, so if you are approaching or leaving Earl Shilton, watch your speed!
UPDATE: 30 Jul 2011.